Landscape My Yard!

sniteiuMay 20, 2012

This site is such a great resource! I thought I'd ask for your help in landscaping a 3-3.5' wide bed along the front of my house that is essentially a blank slate (see second pic below, specifically). I am in Zone 5b and the bed faces north east - it gets very little direct sunlight (maybe 2-3 hours of partial sun as it moves south during the day) due to a large 100+ year old maple in front of my house.

I would like to keep the existing boxwood shrub and clematis, and am open to a mix of both perennials and evergreens. I prefer classic/simple design so tend to lean towards gardens with various shades of green/white. Not opposed to some color, but prefer muted shades and cooler tones (purples/blues).

I really like the look of a layered landscape, and that would be my goal as I'm not "in love" with the bed along the other side of the house (see third pic - if you have any suggestions for that side as well...please let me gets more direct sun as it faces south east).

I was considering a weeping japanese maple (deep red coloring) to the right of the stairs, under-planted with a mix of small variety hosta. On the other side of the clematis I was considering a shade-hardy viburnum that I would carry-over to the side of the house - it would create a privacy screen for the sideyard as it feels in. The fern is just a hanging pot on a shepherds hook. I would also keep the existing hosta in that area as they are part of a larger hosta garden along the property line that isn't shown in the picture.

I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts/suggestions. Thank you in advance and let me know if you have questions!

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This is traditional... not exactly what you're asking for, but I'd minimize hiding the pretty foundation.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Why not just add another matching heuchera to the right side between the clematis and downspout hosta and call it finished.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 6:26PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Beautiful house! Are those hydrangeas next to the steps? If not, might be something to add.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 7:00PM
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I match and make combinations what you mention the plants and other.I select the terrace and the different color azaleas.some curb appeal.but sorry,big project and expensive.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 8:23PM
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    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Hydrangea arborscens--one long hedge. :-) It would be stunning with that house and would get to be a nice size each year.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:26PM
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Wow! I was not expecting so many responses so quickly...thank you all for your comments/suggestions. In response to some of your inquiries/comments - The existing landscaping was all planted two summers ago and my initial intention was a symmetrical layout. I had a second grouping of huecheras that did not make it on the one side - that may give you an idea of what I'm up against in landscaping this area...I think it's the lack of sunlight. Oddly enough, the clematis does just fine and gets a decent number of blooms each spring. I also had an ivory halo dogwood in front of the downspot that was relocated this couldn't retain it's initial size after I bought it and wasn't doing well - much better now that it is in a sunnier spot.

I am a huge hydrangea fan and love the impact a hedge would have. If I were starting over completely...I'd probably go this route. My only concern is that the existing shrubs beside the stairs are hydrangeas and the one side isn't flourishing - I'd be hesistant to put in more given the issues I've had thus far with other plants. Unfortunately, I do not know the variety so perhaps a different one (such as limelight, incrediball or annabelle) would fair better. Does anyone have any thoughts/input on some of the plants I suggested previously, such as the weeping japanese maple underplanted with medium/small variety hosta and planting viburnum shrubs behind the existing hosta and to also screen the sideyard? I am also considering relocating the existing huechera with a deep purple variety - I think it would provide more contrast and have a bigger impact than the peach-colored variety there currently.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 9:48AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Your issue is much more likely root competition from the tree than simply shade. And that is only one reason why 100-year-old maples near a house merit consideration for replacement! What kind is it?

As you are finding, a symmetrical planting is very unlikely to stay symmetrical under these conditions.

Karin L

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 10:54AM
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They just need water. That's what thirsty hydrangeas look like! Their leaves droop.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 11:08AM
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Color in photos may not ring true, but it looks like your Hydrangeas need fertilizer. Their leaves appear yellowed.

Using 5 or 6 different species to "landscape" a 10 or 12' run of space seems excessive and not to be striving for unity or continuity. The effect is, instead, to make it "busy."

Still, I can't see the goal of covering up the stone foundation as though it were ugly and needed to be hidden. You might remark about why this is your objective.

I see low hanging foliage in the yard. If you need more light, have examined what you can do to get it? Though the narrow shot doesn't show HOW the Maple affects the light conditions, it "feels" as though there are low branches that need to come off. (Pruning off lower tree branches is a routine procedure for anyone who owns trees.)

A Japanese Maple would want light. And seeing as you already have a plethora of species, it's not reasonable (in terms of landscaping) to add yet another. Also, no matter what Jap. Maple you would get, it would grow too large for any position at your front foundation.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 11:12AM
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You have such a lovely home, very classic and elegant. My own preference for the front bed would be something low and simple -
lily of the valley as a spring scented ground cover and blue varieties of hostas for its purple flowers and interesting foliage.

Since you are also looking for symmetry and screening, but are competing with the maple roots, I think that you are already on the absolutely right track with the hanging ferns on the porch itself. Good quality hayracks and baskets at that higher elevation can provide you with privacy whilst satisfying your "primal" springtime planting urges.

These are pictures that I have shown before, and the planting scheme is way too overstuffed for your setting, but it does show a herbaceous retreat. It would be great fun and very easy to create something that would uniquely complement your home!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Thank you all for your continued input. To clarify a bit since the photos do not depict it..the 100+yo maple in front of my house is actually at street level which is another five steps down from yard level. You can sort of see the additional hand rail in the photo, which goes down to the sidewalk. There is then an additional five feet of level green space between the sidewalk and street where the maple is planted (I was standing underneath the tree on the sidewalk when I took the photo). That said, I don't think the issue is root competition and I am confident it is not a watering issue either as I am very on top of that.

I have been unsuccessful in identifying what variety of hydrangea I do have - the foliage has always been lime green in color from the day they were purchased and grows in as such every year. There has been no change in the foliage color even with fertilization. The variety I have seen that most closely resembles them at the nusery is the lemon daddy variety, however, the foliage is always much more yellow in color than mine have ever been and they always seem to have pink-hued blooms whereas mine are always cream or true white depending on the year.

Yardvaark - you have really hit the nail on the head. I also agree that it is getting too busy which is part of my frustration with my own first time homeowner impatience. At this point, I'm ok with the left side as is and don't want to rework it at this point. I was drawn to this forum as I have not had much success with the right side, and have a chance to start fresh. If I get things right this time around, I would be more excited about reworking the left side so there is more continuity. If anyway has suggestions for other plants, or could provide guidance on other areas (such as maximum number of different specimens to use given the space restrictions) I welcome your comments. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 12:20PM
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"...such as maximum number of different specimens to use given the space restrictions"

As I suggested in my illustration: 3. (If by "specimens" you mean species.)

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 2:24PM
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molie(z6 CT)

I agree with previous posters that your house has such a striking foundation ---- it would be a shame to cover that up.

I really liked Yardvaark's design. It has symmetrical balance, which matches the home's architecture, and also allows you to change the color (of annuals, I'm assuming) from season to season to eliminate boredom that might occur with perennials.

You mentioned wanting a Japanese Maple in the front. You could archive that mahogany/red tone of a maple (and pick up on the color of the door) by planting the same variety of annual Coleus, or Caladium or Begonia across the front. Another year you could aim for blues and use Scaevola, Calibrachoa, or Salvia, or whatever annual you like that will grow well in your yard.

To solve your desire for privacy on the porch, you might consider a pot of Mandevilla or another annual vine grown on a trellis that's tacked on the side.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 7:10AM
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Thank you all for you continued feedback. I should have mentioned in my original post that I would prefer perennials in this space over annuals so I can avoid the whole replanting issue every spring (I have three other mixed beds on the property in addition to raised garden boxes that keep me quite busy, in addition to just maintaining the yard itself). On a sidenote, I actually never mentioned anything about wanting privacy for the front porch - that would defeat the purpose of having one in my opinion. I was referring more to the viburnum I was considering planting to the right of the clematis that I would also carry over to the sideyard (see second picture). The viburnum would help to screen the sideyard from the sidewalk/street as it fills in.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:25AM
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